A new survey from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments examines trends in wellness programs. (NBGH Survey) The survey included responses from 121 mostly large employers, 80% of whom said they offer some wellness or health improvement opportunity to workers. Companies are planning to spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness in 2015, up from $594 in 2014 and just $430 five years ago. The largest companies, those with more than 20,000 employees, spend the most, $878 per worker, while firms with between 5,000 and 20,000 employees spend about $661 per employee. Incentives for participation are common, including gift cards, cash, reduced health insurance premiums or cost-sharing and contributions to a health saving account. Fewer companies, however, are using penalties for not participating. The most common health improvement efforts in 2015 are biometric screenings, which 72% of companies offer, health risk assessments, 70%, and physical activity programs, 54%. Only about 5% of employers use disincentives in connection with these offerings, half of the number that did in 2014. The only wellness effort with significant disincentive use is smoking cessation, where 17% of companies penalize failure to participate. Although substantial incentives may be available to workers, only about 47% earned the full amount they could in 2014, while another 26% earned some of the maximum amount. Employers clearly still have opportunities to improve wellness program design and to find incentives that maximize participation.
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About this Blog
The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements through Roche Consulting, LLC and may be reached at [email protected].
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